A few years ago, pre-heart-failure, we took a trip to Buenos Aries, Argentina, to visit our son who was studying abroad. Arriving with limited expectations and very little savvy, we somehow stumbled into booking a trip to Iguazu Falls. I had never heard of it, but learned it is one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.
Three times wider and 100 feet taller than Niagara, Iguazu was impressive to behold. My husband and I both teared up seeing it. Then against the spray of the massive waterfall, a rainbow formed. The kids still remember “how weird Mom and Dad were acting.” I honestly felt like I was witnessing a flourish of God’s miraculous hand that day. I had a glimpse of Eden.
But honestly, most of my life, I didn’t see God working. I knew Him and I loved Him, but I couldn’t see that He was actually doing much in the miracle field.
Turns out the problem was with the observer and not with God.
CS Lewis said: “Miracles, in fact, are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.”
My difficulty was with the smaller letters. I could see God in nature and in the Resurrection, but I had trouble finding Him in my own life, or in the situations of those I love.
Thankfully, most doctors can see those smaller retellings. 75% of US doctors believe miracles occur today. Let that sink in. The people who devote their lives to saving people realize that they are not the ones doing the saving. Something else is going on that they can’t explain scientifically.
I recorded in my journal after an early trip to the Cleveland Clinic:
As we sit here, I can see clearly the front entrance of the hospital. Five lanes of cars bumper to bumper, dozens of CC employees directing traffic in the shadow of a six story parking lot. This place is like a city unto itself. So very many souls seeking a miracle today.
Shortly after that, my appointments began. I had my first echo with the young lady who would eventually become our favorite sonographer at the Cleveland Clinic. After she saw the test results, she prayed “for a miracle to heal Mrs. Lori’s heart.” I wiped my cheeks. Maybe for the first time I realized the seriousness of my situation. I’ll never forget her words because she so clearly believed two things. One, I was desperately ill. Two, God, and only God, could fix this. She asked for a miracle because, with all her medical expertise and experience, she knew more than anyone, I needed one.
Since that day, I have beaten all the odds. I have survived and improved beyond medical explanation. To be clear, although my life was spared, my heart is not “healed.” I am managed extremely well with my device and meds. But I have a disease that takes one course, and it is forward.
Still, something big happened here. Our God amazed the doctors and astounded the surgeons at the best heart hospital in the nation. There is no denying that fact. And perhaps getting heart failure in the first place, against any rational explanation, was part of His miraculous plan.
Yet, even with this amazing experience, I get weary on the journey. Day to day, it can seem that we are on our own to tread the floodwaters of our situation for as long as we can.
We all know that God often chooses not to intervene at times of our greatest need. Those days when we can only perceive our circumstance through helplessness, we are perhaps experiencing it in its truest form. Seeing this world through the refraction of our human tears allows for the rainbows to take shape in our own lives. And those rainbows are promises: Never again will I let a storm destroy all of life. Or all of your life.
Just before my heart function was initially restored, my husband and I were driving past our church building. It had been raining. As we approached the building, we noticed a rainbow and stopped. Then we saw the complete arc, with the church building sitting perfectly centered underneath. I knew then that the deluge of this disease will not ruin me. Whatever the outcome.
About a week later I wrote in my journal:
I remembered today about the rainbow I photographed three days before we got the news of unexpected improvement. I had never been able to see both ends of a rainbow that distinctly. I feel like God was sending a message that I would one day see this journey completed.
Like all of us, my uncertain voyage through the storm continues, because I am a mortal being in a fallen world. The day we saw that rainbow, just like the day we first saw Iguazu Falls, God wrote in big letters of His majesty. He has been writing to me in a smaller font ever since. But some days I can see that smaller font most clearly through my tears.